If you were ever looking for a reason to love baseball, and baseball cards, you should try being a kid stuck inside during the winter of 1982 and 1983 … and then pulling a 1983 Topps Fernando Valenzuela from one of the first wax packs of the spring.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — you don’t have a time machine handy.

Well, let me help you out with that one …

Find Fernando Valenzuela cards on eBay (affiliate link)

Find Fernando Valenzuela cards on Amazon (affiliate link)

OK, so now, if you’ll allow a bit of personal projection …

You’re in your room after the school bus drops you off one afternoon, hunkering down with a stack of homework, when your mom reminds you she’s been to the store that day.

Or, maybe you just got home on a Saturday morning from another trip to the greasy auto shop with your dad to pick up another part for the family ride — a ‘76 Dodge pickup.

Either way, you’ve been out, or someone else has, and you’ve landed a pack of baseball cards as part of the deal.

Now, you’re still not sure you like baseball or baseball cards, but you’ve warmed up to the idea over the winter, for some reason. Your mom has been buying you cards — again, for some reason — for a couple of years, and maybe you’ve already had your first encounter with that 1983 Donruss Cesar Cedeno game-changer.

Whatever the case, it’s still cold outside in that way only early spring can be, the air cracking at you like a whip if you dare try to push the boundaries of summer, letting you know winter might yet have an encore or two in store.

But you have that wax pack, and it’s warm inside the house … and baseball cards are better than homework, no matter how you stack them.

So you tear open the waxy wrapper, slide that dusty, chalky, terrible, exquisite gum into your mouth, and thumb through the cards.

Names you don’t know — Gary Lavelle, Randy Martz, David Green.

Names that led their teams — Bill Laskey, Bo Diaz, Jerry Mumphrey.

Super Veterans, All-Stars, League Leaders, Record Breakers … and all of the cards looking somehow crisper than the others in your collection, from 1981 and 1982.

And then … Fernando!

You don’t know why Valenzuela is pitching next to a building or a bench or whatever is going on over there to his right. You won’t have a clue about bullpens and the like for a good couple of months yet.

And you can’t figure out how throwing to a batter while standing that close to the chain link fence behind him can work out well for anyone.

You have no idea, either, that Valenzuela is just 21 or 22 years old in that photo, and probably would have guessed 30 or 40 or 70 if someone had asked.

But Fernando, you already knew about. Knew he’d been some sort of phenomenon when the Dodgers won the World Series in 1981. Knew because the world has buzzed about him.

Knew because Dad had told you that that Fernando was really something else, even though Dad was no baseball fan.

And more than all of that, the 1983 Topps Fernando makes you feel something.

Valenzuela is wearing long sleeves and stands half cast in shadows, and yet his barrel chest thrusts into the sunlight, carrying the “Dodgers” on his uniform with it. His tensed chin leads the march, and you think it might have actually morphed into a baseball itself — maybe it happened with ever pitch.

Can a chin become a baseball, and then turn back to mere flesh?

And Fernando wears a blue glove on his right hand. That feels pretty special.

And then … your left arm tingles and you swear you can smell fresh-mown grass and you want, suddenly, nothing more than to throw a baseball. Or grip a bat. Or toe the dirt.

Fernando breaks out of winter’s darkness, and you are ready to follow him into the green cathedrals of summer.

Hobby Wow!

Fernando was part of some really good Dodgers teams in the 1980s, and much of that flavor comes through in this lot for sale on eBay:

That’s some pretty nifty Dodger Stadium wall art, signed by Valenzuela, Kirk Gibson, Steve Sax, Vin Scully, Reggie Smith, and may others of those Dodgers stars.

Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).